With only a couple of weeks to go until the start of the Transcontinental Race #4 it’s a good thing the new bike has finally arrived. Bike Whisperer HQ was busy with sweat, swearing and Shimano grease and the bike made its debut on a commute last Friday and then straight out into the wild on a little 600k audax called The Buzzard. I’d attempted the Buzzard before, as a Perm, just after Christmas but failed when my GPS went mental after 450k.
There’s still a lot of (mostly panicking) to do before the TCR leaves Belgium for Turkey. At this stage, given how much damage I did during the 700k last weekend I’m looking to just survive the TCR. I have no goals for securing a ‘result’ other than doing my best to finish and finish healthy. My route is about 3700 kilometres and includes about a BILLION metres of climbing, thanks to Mike “suck it up bitches!” Hall who made the checkpoints so that riders were forced to stay in the Swiss Alps, Italian Dolomites and then the Black Mountains. So, yeah as a fat bastard this race is totally not geared up for me. You’ll be pleased to note that I abandoned my weightloss plan months ago for a “drink beer, she’ll be ‘right” plan instead. As such I’ve ordered some even lower gears in the hope I may be able to haul my carcass over all these bloody mountains before the end of days.
PB by ~4min and finally got Pete Cookson’s 1995 clubrecord. Sorry Pete!
Not much to say other than there’s minutes to be had if I can just stop my leg going numb. Torrential rain before the start made me question the point but we’d traveled up here so it seemed silly not to race. Glad I did.
2016-08-19: I never got around to writing about this ride but here are some notes I’d made way back when. May as well post them and get rid of the draft email sitting around…
Started out bit late and didn’t really ride hard enough to catch any fast groups.
Finish: 33.5 hours – 8hr stop time! Must improve, but easy to waste time at controls. Sleep stop was total waste of time, for example.
Sleep kit I tried was still far too cold to be useful – Hunka bivvy, silk liner, PHD down jacket not good enough in -3degC!
Later on Sunday morning I tried sleeping on grass in sun – maybe dozed off, not sure but felt a little better afterwards.
Rough mental patch from post-Kings YHA sleep attempt all the way into next day – need to sort head out! Probably better when competing because then I’m more focused on trying to win and not just trundling along.
Start – Fruit Pastelles bag
Honey Cafe @ ~70k – Beans on toast x 3, Coffee cake, Coffee
Llanidloes control at ~140k – Scone w/ j&c, some other cake, cappuccino, refill bottles
Stopped with Paul in some village – 2 Mars Bars, fruit pastelles? coke?
Kings1 – soup, cous cous mains, fruit salad, instant coffee and squash?
Menais Bridge @ ~300k – Whatever they were offering (mains, rice pud & pineapple) plus cake slice, Soreen pieces, biscuit, coffee, grabbed two rolls (cheese and ham&cheese?) and flapjack piece to carry during long night stage back to Kings.
Kings 2nd – soup, spicy cous cous mains, cake? instant coffee and squash?
Tried to sleep in bivvy outside, failed, just laid shivering
Newtown garage – egg & cress sandwich, 2 x apple turnovers, cappuccino.
2nd Cafe – chocolate cake, cappuccino
Cappuccino at train station cafe, needed toilet
Finished with large Soreen malt loaf, share pack fruit pastelles, Pepsi from service station.
Think I got through 8 or 10 bags of premixed 500ml Torq, 2-3 gels, 1 Torq bar.
Side-mount cages need to be swapped so I can use left hand.
Sunglasses would’ve been good and using sunscreen smart idea.
Need lower gears to make some steeper climbs less work (had 39/28T)
Comments on YACF:
I wondered why I didn’t see you. Though with my pace, it was equally likely you’d left at 6am and I never caught up with you. Hope it gets better soon.
Funny how I’d ‘planned’ to sleep and would’ve been better off if I kept moving instead of freezing in a bivvy and for once in my life I didn’t have a navigation issue (a Garmin device worked for over 24hrs – I know, I should buy a lottery ticket!) using your route. Is that irony?
If it wasn’t for another bloke I might’ve missed the Llanidloes? control at 160k. I write the control distances down on a cheat sheet so wasn’t planning on stopping until then but it appeared at ~140k. I think that was the only weirdness.
I think I rode past Aberhasefp. I was so slow it would’ve been open when I went past too. Next time…
I had a good day on day one – loved the scenery Wales had to offer and was surprised it was so warm. Would love to take the missus and explore the prettier bits a little more. Rode along chatting with a guy who wasn’t on the ride until Kings where he split to a B&B in the town.
After trying and failing to get any sleep in a bivvy at Kings (to the guys that asked it said -3degC on the Garmin) I went a bit down hill mentally and just kind of grovelled along for hours and hours feeling sorry for myself. Thought about bivvying again now the sun was out but in the end just laid down on a grassy corner somewhere and ‘reset’. That and some food helped for a while and then the sads came back later and I tried it again outside a pub and a female cyclist (not on BCM) asked if I was ok! We had a bit of a chat and rather than moving inside the pub fence I decided I should just ride. So thanks whoever you were, you cheered me up and got me home that much quicker.
After a final refill of food and drink at some service station I had a fast finish. Ended up pretty pink as I didn’t bother to put on any sunscreen. Weird event for me since I wasn’t racing and it was more of a test for TCR, I couldn’t quite get my head in the right place – since I was adding in sleep stops and I wasn’t pushing hard I just kept dwelling on stuff or getting annoyed when people passed me and I wasn’t keeping up and dumb stuff like that instead of enjoying the ride I was getting angry with myself for not competing! It’s not a race you idiot! Nevermind, I’m feeling better about the whole experience with some hindsight
Got some more good info about what works and what doesn’t so next long training ride, whatever it is, should go that much better. Things like Compact cranksets and putting my side-entry bottle cages on the other way around..
Thanks to the organisers and the volunteers. Thanks to other riders who I shared a brief comments with about the cold or my crack cocaine or just a “got everything you need” or whatever.
I tend to do the opposite and do things like maths around the distance remaining – so say it was 50k to go, I’d divide by 2 and that’s 25kph and as it ticked over I’d keep dividing. It gives me something to do and makes the distance to go smaller too. I think I’ll give your method a go. I used to do that in races some times – tape up the computer and ride on feel. Probably easier to do during an audax when it doesn’t matter if you slack off. I’ll add that into my bag of tricks for next long one. Cheers.
I’m sure I was warmer in the bivvy this time with the extra kit compared to last time although it was colder outside if the Garmin is to be believed (-3 vs. 0). I probably should’ve grabbed some cardboard or something from inside the hostel to use as a ground pad but I’m kind of trying to start minimal and add stuff until I can actually sleep. Kind of like trying to fly by jumping off a building first and then adding wings on the second attempt…
Cheers. I wasn’t really looking for a bivvy spot I just used the YHA because if it went badly (it did) I could go back inside have a coffee and leave.
In hindsight I wasn’t tired enough and probably should’ve left Kings after a feed and found a corner in a field somewhere.
I carried my sleeping bag around but didn’t use it because by the time I’d got the bivvy set up I didn’t want to get out and rearrange everything.
Next time I think I’ll try my sleeping bag cover (not bivvy) and sleeping bag along with a sleeping pad of some sort and maybe leave the silk liner and jacket at home.
I’m struggling to find a compact sleeping pad. I don’t like the idea of those crazy light cut-out ones and I think even chopped down, the yoga mat I have will be cumbersome.
It seems each time I travel to the US to race the World 24hr TT Champs I come back with a different illness. This time I managed to avoid DVT but seem to have had some kind of asthma attack.
Shortish version of the race report is: it got very cold at night (I saw 3degC, someone else said -2degC) and I was only wearing a skinsuit in order to be competitive against Baloh. Around the 7hr point, I suffered some kind of asthma thing – wheezing, coughing, short of breathe – and if you can’t breathe you can’t ride. I couldn’t continue so dived into the car, cranked up the heating and put ALL my clothes on until my breathing got less raspy and I could take in a full lungful. I went back out and half a lap in, I couldn’t breathe properly again – even being covered in layers of clothes. That was it, my race was done. Back into the car and wheezed until I fell asleep. There was an idea of continuing at 10am when it would be much warmer but there were three guys still riding very strong and it seemed like a waste of time to start riding again for 11-12hrs just to get, say, 5th place. I was here to win, not fill minor places. So I officially quit the race, got some breakfast, packed up the bike and watched the remainder of the race.
We then had a lovely week in California driving from San Diego up to Santa Barbara then San Luis-Obispo via Solvang and a wine route Foxen Canyon road, beautiful Big Sur and then flew out of San Francisco.
Shit race, great holiday. I’ve since been tested by my GP and have a poorer lung flow rate than my ‘proper’ asthmatic friend! Now I’ve been told I have to carry a little blue inhaler on all my rides and have to maintain a prescription for a preventer inhaler. Maybe all that crappy London air has finally started to kill me? Still haven’t got the tests back for my DVT since they lost the first lot! Bloody hell, falling apart…
Oh, as expected, Marko Baloh won the race but only managed just over 500 miles, where I was expecting a 520-530 mile ride, especially given there was almost no wind, compared to the year before when you could barely hang onto the bike! Maybe he also suffered from the cold? Meurig did well this year, adding another 10mi to his distance.
Eurostar to France with bikes booked on the same train, except our train broke down and they transferred us but not the bikes. Us being, Adrian (yacf), Alistair (PieEater on yacf) and Mark. So the four of us had lunch near Gare du Nord, waiting a couple of hours for the bikes to turn up. We then cycled to the National Velodrome in Saint Quentin via the Eiffel Tower which took a couple of hours. Straight in for the bike check and then picked up our packs of numbers and high-viz gillet. Then I headed over to my hotel in Plaisir, repacked the bike and went to dinner with some Willesden CC riders.
After some Belgian beers Mark had kindly provided in the hotel courtyard it was off to bed.
The swarm of cyclists in the F1 hotel meant the meagre breakfast provisions were destroyed before I could get any so it was into my bonk rations I dived for some Torq energy and my anticoag drugs. What a start to the day!
I had to get to the velodrome before 1pm in order to make use of their bag drop, since I’d not booked the hotel room through the whole event (next time I will book a closer hotel and probably book it through so I don’t have to worry about left luggage). Once I was changed and I’d repacked for the 8th time, I left the velodrome and wandered down to Saint Quentin to have lunch. There, while chowing down on a pizza, I briefly met ultra-racing legend Chris Ragsdale who was crewing for another American rider.
Tweet: “Riders are lining up for the off. Feeling quite nervous, more so than normal. Good luck to gold coast rider #PBP”
Start was fast and nervous, certainly not helped by a Frenchie grounding his pedal at speed on a RAB right in front of me not even 5k into the event. I rode up to him and made a ‘heart pumping’ gesture and he said pardon and we carried on, busting our guts to stick with the frantic pace out of town. I couldn’t really believe people were riding this hard at the start of 1230k, had they not heard of pacing? Problem was, I didn’t want to lose the bunch so we continued to ride hard to maintain position in the big bunch. We caught the group in front very fast and someone said later we also caught Group B but I’m not sure about that.
Tweet: “Loudeac now with Ciaran and Aidan. Just let Martin Lucas head off. Feeling tired but OK. Lots still to do. Start was mental, we’re slow now.”
I wrote Aidan but I meant Adrian. I don’t seem to have any memory of Mortagne (services), Villaines, Fougeres, Tinteniac or Quedillac (services) controls. I do remember seeing Jenny at Villaines (the first proper control) and she said Hoppo was just behind us. He later joined our bunch. I think we then lost this bunch whilst in one of the controls. I remember sitting out the back struggling a bit to get my compulsory high-viz gilet on and then riding off the front of the bunch so I could have a wee without losing them. The pace must have been stable enough at this stage that I could move freely around.
I once again have no memories of St Nicolas (services) or Carhaix but I do remember the long climb before Brest and seeing the fast boys, including Rimas (A020) ZigZag from YACF coming out of Brest. We skipped the offer of free crepes on the bridge whilst enjoying the view of the bay and the big suspension bridge. Wish I’d stopped and taken photos.
Tweet: “In Brest. Can’t believe only half way. Have towed half of Europe across France. Fucking sore. Train back would be lovely. Never doing again.”
I chatted with an older Irish rider who knew what he was doing and convinced Ciaran to turn around and make it at least to Carhaix while we had some daylight. The climb went on forever but the decent was quite fun. I drafted a big hay truck and then a tractor along some of the roads. Silly waste of energy but fun so what the hell?
Tweet: “Might bail on my no sleep plan given how slow I’m moving. Don’t want to be stuck in the freezing early hours again need ing sleep outdoors.”
Tweet: “Like an earthquake refuge here in Carhaix. We slept on the floor. I’m getting more food. Not leaving until sunrise. Too cold. Lost others.”
This was where it went a bit pear-shaped. We’d decided to sleep in Carhaix (32hrs solid riding and 40-odd awake) so had a proper meal and a beer. I thought Ciaran was going to the dorms and lost him. I slept for maybe an hour on the floor then used the loo and had some more food. I was cold and miserable here (should’ve got rain jacket and earplugs). Lots more started filling the place up and I slept a bit in the cafe/fast-food area. Woke again and ate/drank more and used the loo again where I joked with another Irish rider about some funny noises coming from one of the cubicles. He said that Ciaran had already left and I was a bit pissed off to say the least. I went out into the fog eventually and his bike was still there so I was back to wanting to just get moving. I went looking in the sleeping quarters with the help of one of the volunteers but I couldn’t find him anywhere though and I didn’t want to leave him there. I finally had one last look around and found him in a corner behind some tables and we eventually rolled out after losing about 1000 places around 9am.
Tweet: “Finally found Ciaran. We’ll leave Cairhaix soon. Once more into the fog… This has turned into a full value ride.”
Spent the whole day just tapping out an even pace trying not to hurt Ciaran’s ankles too much. I was quite enjoying myself, feeding my ego sitting on the front doing big turns, making it look easy, in my mind. Ciaran was still stronger than a lot of other riders we encountered and was doing turns along with a Portuguese rider? But we mostly towed people through the day, just knocking off one control at a time trying not to take too long in them after the Carhaix debacle.
Tweet: “Only 500 to go. Hahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”
Tweet: “In Fougres. Feeling fine, sitting on the front tapping it out. Ciaran bit damaged but he’s still gettin turns in. Probably mood swing now..”
Into another night and memories start to disappear again. “Just tap it out” becomes my new motto.
Tweet: “Slow going in the night but I actually feel fine. Lots of sleeping bodies in Villaines control. Cracked 1000k. Moo.”
Tweet: “Partner in crime too broken to continue for now. Sucks but it’s a tough ride. I pushed on alone to Montagne. #PB“
For some reason I was buzzing at Villaines and with only 200k to go wanted to crack on. Ciaran was fooked though so I ended up chatting with David DCLane (yacf) and Brendan, an Aussie who was riding with the Danish guys. After an hour’s sleep I woke Ciaran up but he was still not prepared to continue. I gave him a coffee but he seemed pretty broken and needed more sleep. After a couple more offers we decided to split – he would sleep and nurse his ankles and I would carry on.
Tweet: “Roadside support from locals is fantastic.”
Now ‘off the leash’ I smashed it to the next control – Mortagne au Peche. I remember spending a lot of time getting aero and taking very wide lines around groups or individual riders who would often wobble or be riding right on the middle lane lines, I guess so that if they did nod off they wouldn’t be in the dirt! Arrived and felt a bit knackered – guess the adrenalin had worn off. After some food decided to sleep but was then woken up by a woman after I’d slept through unknown alarms! Shit! I panicked and grabbed everything and ran out with a dead arm from lack of circulation laying on the floor in my full kit. I saw Adrian, which shocked me because Ciaran said he was 10 hours behind (how long had I slept?!). Hugged him and then with a “which way is Paris?!?” sped off. It took me about 30min before I shook off the dead arm and grogginess and then got going again. Back into an aero tuck and racing up and down hills. I was flying past everyone. Stopped to take off the rain jacket and high-viz and sped past more bunches and more ‘road potatos’ – riders wrapped up in foil blankets on the roadside.
At Dreux I was running through the control (difficult in midfoot Speedplay cleats). I ran the wrong way but eventually got in and found water, food (coffee eclair and Paris Brest Paris bun!) and some cans of drink. Carried the coke in my jersey. Disappointed they didn’t have any energy drink to mix into my bottles. Past the Audax Australia guy with the recumbent again and was back on a mission. Flew past bunch after bunch, mad as hell, attack, attack!!! Some duo yelled at me – I looked. They whistled and I realised they wanted me to join them. I was like “if two of you can’t catch me then what’s the point? I’m not dragging your arses to the finish!”.
With 10k to go I was in agony – I’d rubbed my sit bone skin raw with the new ISM PN1.1 saddle. I didn’t want to stop to add more chamois cream though. I remember drinking the can of coke riding away from a bunch on one of the final climbs. Fat man in vertical ascent shocker! They must’ve hated that. 🙂 The crowds were cheering me on – it was fantastic. Then I was at the velodrome, down some silly dirt track chute and parking my bike, right next to Mark from the Eurostar who’d had a stunning ride on such a non race bike.
Into the ‘drome to hand in the brevet card and a feed and then got chatting to Chris who’s rider had knocked 30 hours off his PB! Found DCLane again and also Brendan with another Aussie who was heading off to Alpe d’Huez later that week. Probably other people but I was a bit vague after that final effort. I had a shower and then struggled around St Quentin looking for the Gare and decided it was just easier (if a lot more painful) to ride back to the hotel.
Tweet: “What do you do after cycling 1200k? Ride another 10 to get back to your hotel. #muglife#PBP“
Had a disappointing steak from the same place we went the other night (chatted to a Canadian rider who’d packed after 600k) and back at the hotel helped a German rider R109 with charging his phone so he could find his mates. I fell asleep before he could give me the charger back but it was on my door when I woke. Finally had some F1 breakfast and then, since it was raining and I was so sore I grabbed a cab to the station and took a train into Paris Montparnasse. Then after some fool told me to get a Metro ticket and I was then told “no bikes” after buying the ticket I decided to ride the 5-6k to Gare du Nord (it wasn’t raining here and I stood up most of the way). Dropped my bike off and went in search of beer. Found beer, travelled home, having a nice conversation with a Kiwi couple who’d been working in England and were touring Europe before heading home to New Zealand.
Tweet: “My mouth feels like it has the plague, also known as The Baguette Death. #PBP“
69 hours total, 46 hours ride time, 24 hours lost in Controls. Powertap stopped after 13 hours so no idea about true effort of this ride.
Summary posted on YACF: I enjoyed the first fast 12 hours riding with Ciaran in the D bunch. I think we were at Brest in 26hrs. He wanted to stop but I wanted to push on while it was still light. So we did to Carhaix, where we spent 9 hours! I think I got a couple of hours sleep and multiple feeds here then lost Ciaran and finally found him after searching the entire complex and thinking he’d left without me. The late start meant we missed the fog. Then it was a nice day with me mostly riding easy pace on the front of a small group of Ciaran + randoms. At Villaines that night though his ankles were too much for him so he had an hour’s kip while I talked to DCLane and Aussie Brendan in DK kit. Woke C up but he decided he couldn’t go on, not now at least so I had to carry on without him. Smashed it to the next control – Montange? Then slept through my alarm so I don’t yet know how much time I lost. Was woken by a woman and panicked about how much time I’d been asleep so rushed out, with a dead arm as I’d slept in all my kit, past Adrian (TransAm racer) and after a “where’s Paris?” was on the road. Hammered it from here to the finish, passing tonnes of broken looking riders. I was feeling fine right up until 10k to go when I was really struggling to stay seated with such pain from the Adamo (probably not the best choice given the long stints of slow sat-up riding). Still came in pretty quick though and was pretty happy with most of the ride.
69hrs total, but 24hr of that was wasted in controls! Sub-50hr next time, not messing about.
Summary posted on LFGSS: I had to leave @scultura at Villaines as he was broken and a kip didn’t help. Tried to egg him on but the poor bloke had left everything on the road. I left and went a bit mental but then fell asleep at the next control and slept through my alarms! Some woman woke me and with a dead arm I ran out to my bike asking which way Paris was! Saw Adrian TransCon and then bashed the final two sections, soloing past tonnes of broken looking people. Road bike + adamo did bad thing to me. Couldn’t sit properly for last 10k. Enjoyed first 12hrs in mental bunch, but we lost it at control then it all went shit. Second day was good fun just tapping out easy pace in nice weather. Next night I was enjoying until losing @scultura and no idea how long I was out for. Skip controls and there’s massive time saving to be had. Is there a PBP perm? 🙂
Oh, just wanted to say thanks to to Marcus for his great packing lists, they helped me a lot when it came to thinking about what to carry:
55:12 (PB) 25mi PB by 21 seconds (3 years ago!) and a course PB by 33 seconds (2 years ago during the Newbury RC – Pete Jarvis Memorial).
Cold, bit windy from the NE, decided against overshoes (which was silly as it took ages for my toes to thaw out afterwards) but it was dry so I used my bling Shimano shoes. New gearing setup (single 55T carbon ring) seemed fine and the cranks I installed didn’t fall off so that’s a bonus!
Not sure why there were so few racers but hopefully James gets more riders for his other events in the future.
The crew came out to ‘watch’ this one (read: drink coffee in the carpark for ~20min) but it’s always good to have someone there to help or support or both. Arrived in good time for a change and had decided not to bother taking a turbo for warmup due to the rain. Of course it wasn’t raining when I arrived so I just rode up past the start and then back close to go time.
I’d not ridden this H10/22 course before so had collected some useful tips from the ‘sperts on lfgss as well as a bit of Google StreetView crawling (I must’ve been keen!). Plan was basically not to go out too hard like last time and then lift when it ramped up a bit on the way out and again on the way back. It kind of worked. I felt I’d done pretty poorly, but to be honest my power wasn’t as far off the last 10 mile I rode (and won).
I took heed and started out ‘easy’ but then found I couldn’t really lift later on so settled into a bit of a miserable groove thinking I was doing rubbish. Both the RABs were taken very slowly because it was damp, my brakes aren’t the best in the wet and I couldn’t see a bloody thing through my stupid visor! I had to keep sitting up to look under it and wiping it off with a finger to get about 30 seconds of decent vis before it fogged up again. Grr.. serves me right for taping up the vents. I should’ve applied some of that anti-fog stuff I bought last time this happened. At least I’ll know for next time. I was managing to lift the power quite a bit on the draggy uphill sections but it was annoying I couldn’t seem to motivate myself to keep it on for the flatter parts. WIth a mile to go I was confident I could PB and I picked it up a bit, stopping the clock but not really noticing what time I’d done. I only accept official times anyway so I like to wait until I see it on the board. PB by 23 seconds on less power thanks to the course mostly I’d guess. It wasn’t windy which helped too although the vis problems counteracted that.
Adam Topham won the event with a 19:16 (but he writes books on time trialling so he should be fast ;)).
Met Andy from the forum and chatted, ate some cake, clapped the winners, drove home and took Mal to brekkie. Thanks to the organisers and the (large number of) marshalls, helpers, etc.
Thanks to Jeff Lin who wrote this article on swapping out Powertap bearings. I only needed to replace the axle bearings since I’m running a relatively new, STEEL rather than cheese, freehub body on the Kinesis’ Powertap. It took about 2 hours but that included the usual struggle with the Powertap cap and its stupid tool, a full clean of the cassette and bike and a second tear down to push the new batteries in properly. End result: Power figures and shiny.